Monday, January 24

Julie of the Wolves & Alaska

Julie of the Wolves is set in Alaska, and we venture with the protagonist through the backwoods of the state.  Alaska is the largest state in the United States, with more area that Texas, Montana, and California combined!  It is the most northwestern state, bordering Canada's British Columbia and the territory of Yukon.  It also has an ocean border with Russia, just across the Bering Strait...

You may also be interested in the Call of the Wild novel study.

The Russians were the first to explore Alaska, but never fully colonized it.  In 1867, the US Secretary of State purchased Alaska for $7.2 million.  It was known as "Seward's Folly" at the time, because it was believed to be a waste of money.  The formal transfer of land ownership was on October 18, and that day is still celebrated as Alaska Day.  The state was officially admitted to the United States as the 49th state in 1959.

Alaska was occupied by various indigenous peoples for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans.  It is thought that this was the entry point for settling North America, as indigenous peoples crossed the Bering Land Bridge.  The Aleutian Islands are still home to the Aleut Native Americans today.  Learn about the Aleutian Islands during World War 2 in the Island War novel study.  While Alaska is sparsely-populated, it actually has four times the number of people living there than live in Greenland and Northern Canada combined.  About half the people live in Anchorage, while another large percent lives in the capital city of Juneau.  

In the story, Miyax is lost in the tundra, a barren plain.  Because the Alaskan tundra is so far north, it’s usually 28 very cold. It only reaches about 40 degrees Fahrenheit there in the summer, and during the summer there are days when the sun never sets.  In some places in the Arctic Circle, the sun stays up for eighty-four days straight without setting.  By the same token, there are sixty-six days in the winter when the sun never rises.  With little to no sun, and fierce winds, it can get well below zero for most of winter.  There are festivals celebrating the rebirth of the sun in some Alaskan villages.

In the Arctic, the aurora borealis is a collection of glimmering ribbons of colored light that flash across the sky.  They happen because there are electrically charged particles from the sun in the air.  The particles are drawn to Earth’s atmosphere by the magnetic field of the North Pole.  These particles bump into Earth’s atmosphere and release energy that people see as bands of light. 

Eskimos are the native people who live in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of North America and Siberia.  The word Eskimo is not actually an Eskimo word, but was something Algonquin Indians called their neighbors -- it means "eaters of raw meat."   The Algonquins called their neighbors this because they wore animal skin clothing and were very good hunters.  The term used by the people themselves is Inuit, which means “real people.” 

Our spine read for this unit is:

  • Julie of the Wolves    
    • To her small Eskimo village, she is known as Miyax; to her friend in San Francisco, she is Julie. When her life in the village becomes dangerous, Miyax runs away, only to find herself lost in the Alaskan wilderness.

Snag the ENTIRE UNIT in Twenty-Three Reads Bundle - for someone who wants a little bit of everything! 

It includes twenty-three unit studies covering a wide range of topics. Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand. These studies are directed toward upper grades students, but some have resources for younger students so that the whole family can work together.
  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.
  • Language Arts
    • Finding Langston & the Poetry of Langston Hughes
  • Geography
    • Anne of Green Gables & Canadian Provinces
    • Stowaway & Antarctica
    • Julie of the Wolves & Alaska
    • Blades of Freedom & the Louisiana Purchase
    • The Avion My Uncle Flew & France
  • History
    • Zlata’s Diary & the Slavic Wars
    • Freedom Summer & the Summer of 1964
    • Treasure Island & Pirates of the Caribbean Sea
    • Farenheit 451 & Types of Government
    • Red Stars & Russia in World War 2
    • The Great Gatsby & the Roaring Twenties
    • The Long List of Impossible Things & Post-War Germany
    • A Tale of Two Cities & French Revolution
    • Witch of Blackbird Pond & Salem Witch Trials
    • The World Made New & Early Explorers
    • Stitching a Life & Jewish Immigration
  • Life Skills
    • Teetoncey & Lifesaving Skills
    • Freak of the Week & Disabilities Awareness
    • Island of the Blue Dolphins & Sailing
  • Science
    • The Science of Breakable Things & the Scientific Method
    • Frankenstein & Human Anatomy
    • Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation & Albert Einstein

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